Settlement Reached in Suit Against Newark Archdiocese


An out-of-court settlement has been reached between a woman assaulted by a priest and the church officials whom she accused of failing to protect her.

The woman, who was identified in court documents only as Jane Doe, alleged that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark (NJ) knew about the “dangerous sexual improprieties with women” of the Rev. Wladyslaw Gorak, a priest who was transferred from New Jersey to Florida. As part of the transfer process, Newark’s vicar general, Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, signed a letter attesting to Father Gorak’s “good moral character” and lack of any criminal record or behavioral problems.

There had been complaints against Gorak in New Jersey, however. Two reports were filed with police in 2001, accusing the priest of stalking a woman whom he was counseling, although he was not charged. Another account told of a deacon who had once walked in on Father Gorak while he was “embracing and kissing” a woman who was pushing him away. The memo detailing this encounter also made mention of a woman who worked at the church, to whom Gorak had said “improper sexual things,” and of the church’s cook, who said that Gorak made her uncomfortable by standing too close to her while she was working.

The archdiocese claims that it never learned of these complaints until after the lawsuit had been filed in Florida, and that to Serratelli’s knowledge, his statements about Gorak’s moral character were true.

Father Gorak had requested a move to Florida in the spring of 2004, citing a skin condition that would be improved by living in a warm climate. In October 2004, he went to the unnamed woman’s residence in Lakeland, broke into her home and started to tear her clothing off of her. The woman then ran from her home in her underwear and bra to seek help. Gorak pleaded guilty to charges, including burglary, assault and aggravated stalking, in 2007. He was sentenced to four years’ worth of probation, and ordered to undergo counseling.

Jane Doe had also brought suit against the Diocese of Orlando. Neither side disclosed the nature or terms of the settlement.

Father Gorak goes by the name Walter Fisher and is still a priest, although he has not worked as one since the charges were filed in Florida. A spokesperson for the archdiocese said that the church is beginning the process of defrocking Father Gorek.


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